We refer to some (out of line) comment(s) made on P Sharman’s Tasmanian Insult and Injury site regarding aworkcovervictimsdiary (our site). According to some people, it has been put forward that our site causes more harm than good to injured workers, particularly flagging “a concern that our site spreads misinformation and conspiracy theories, (possibly) contributing to victim behaviour”. Others believe we provide useful and practical information to injured workers and help them navigate the workcover maze… My personal view is that we are filling a pretty dark hole.
Are we (aworkcovervictimsdiary) doing more harm than good to injured workers?
Who are we?
Founded in 2011 by seriously injured WorkcoverVictim, we are a group of workers (and healthy family members and friends) who are or have been (seriously) injured or made sick on the job. We have first hand, vast, experience with primarily the Victorian workcover system and strongly believe that it -like most other states’ workers’ compensation schemes- needs improvement! We are a free, fully independent [¹] and rather popular ‘injured worker community”, which has been active in ‘working’ for any positive changes that help injured workers of all walks of life.
We are supported by Erin Brockovich.
aworkcovervictimsdiary continues to grow. On average we have 10 thousand visitors per month and about 40 thousand views per month.
On average, currently, about 500 people visit our site every day, viewing about 1500 pages every day. Some days we have had up to 5000 views per day.
This site has also more then 36 thousand comments, and we monitor both unique and returning visitors (and from where, which device they use and much more), if that helps those of you who need to go down the petty “stats” stuff, and are unable to constructively contribute to the purpose of this article.
What we do?
Together we seek to identify major (real and perceived) injustices, document them, educate newly and fellow injured workers as well as the public about them and propose direct or indirect alternatives where we can. In doing so, we also fight against myths, stereotypes and stigma with the goal to restore some dignity and humanity, as well as rightful benefits owed to injured workers.
- We offer a “Community” for injured workers, a place where they are “at home” and understood, a place where they can unleash, be themselves and where they have a voice
- We offer peer support – meet and interact with other injured workers who face the same difficulties and challenges that you do
- We supply information regarding just about all aspects of the workers compensation system
- We provide an opportunity to join “the fight”
What we are fighting for?
Reform of the Workers’ Compensation Act or scheme, and return to the founding, fairer principles. Dignity, Respect, patient-centered care and Justice must be the foundation for a renewed Workers’ Compensation System. We want an Act or a workers compensation system with the stated purpose to truly assist and compensate workers injured, made ill injured and disabled at work. We also seek a collaborative effort of injured workers, community activists and advocates, doctors, lawyers, rehabbers, (former) claims agents, and perhaps Unions, to better the treatment of injured workers by their employers and the workers’ compensation system.
Are we doing more harm than good?
Given the growing popularity of aworkcovervictimsdiary, we strongly believe that we are somehow filling a dark hole. We don’t know why around 10 thousand people per month would choose to browse about 40 thousand pages to read some of our stories, other than that we are clearly filling a needy void.
Loss and lack of control
The harsh reality few understand -and even fewer are willingly to express openly- is that when an injured worker is on the “system” (for more than 12 months at least), they start to lose control, and lack of control can often lead to desperation – and a desperate, more seriously injured worker, frustrated and “fed up” with the workcover system act out in different ways.
Once the injured worker ends up on the workcover system for a prolonged time [²], and worse, in litigation for example for a serious injury certificate or for a common law damages claim, just about all semblance of control over the injured worker’s destiny is taken away! From being told what doctor to see, what medical treatment can or can not be approved, what surgery they must or cannot have, how much home help or counselling they can have, when weekly payments cease, whether they
must return work, what type of work they must do etc.
Frankly, the truth is that the injured worker has no say during the life of the claim.
The one injured worker whom the system is supposedly to benefit, the one injured worker who is in this horrible system in-voluntarily, is the one injured worker who has no control whatsoever over his or her fate = injured worker pushed to the brink of their sanity and then acting out in an aggressive, at times even violent, desperate manner in an attempt to get some relief.
The workcover system is, in our seriously injured opinion, designed to do one thing and that is to remove all “responsibility” from the injured worker, and alas, remove all control from the injured worker.
aworkcovervictimsdiary believes that the blame for this utter frustration and, too often, desperation goes to the heart of what is fundamentally wrong with the workcover system.
Loss of identity
Besides suffering the actual physical and/or mental , emotional consequences from a workplace injury or illness, more seriously injured workers— at their most vulnerable— also often lose both their established stability of social and work networks and find themselves (emotionally) isolated. Many injured workers are almost on their own.
One must remember at all times that (most) injured workers had productive, successful jobs as well as careers and as a result of their (more serious) workplace injury/illness, most are also losing their identity. Many of us who suffered a workplace injury or illness are also highly educated people, some of us are or were “workaholics” and live(d) for their work. When such a highly educated worker loses his or her career because of a (severe injury/disability), in addition to his/her hobbies (i.e. sport) and lifestyle (i.e. loss of income) as well as social and work networks, they inevitably lose their identity. The same applies to a “blue-collar” worker or a “labourer”. Life as we once knew it suddenly disappears, many are left with a damaged or “shattered” life, a permanent, moderate to severe disability, many also lose their homes, and even their marriage.
Loss of trust – a sense of perceived and real injustice
Add to that the absurd, but real and ongoing need by our far too adversarial workcover system to provide evidence (=proof) both of your injury or illness and the severity of your injury or illness, making injured workers feel like targeted fraudsters and making them lose all trust. They feel the need to repeatedly validate their injury/illness.
Many injured workers will vent their anger, rage, hopelessness and frustration on blogs and forums like aworkcovervictimsdiary.com; others may send letters and/or emails documenting their horror stories, desperate situation and their frustration to politicians; a few – tragically- are so fed up with the system they choose to commit suicide because they feel hopeless. awokcovervictimsdiary has certainly seen its share of hopelessness, anger and frustration from such totally desperate injured workers.
The stories on aworkcovervictimsdiary are not often heard elsewhere, because the reality is that many such injured workers are often ‘hidden’ and ‘invisible or ‘silenced’ (i.e. litigation, intimidation, fear, shame), not necessarily by choice, but by the way the workcover system operates.
I don’t know if your heart will allow you to, if you will, please allow yourself to open your mouth or eyes to see all those around you that are suffering a work injury and its consequences, but try…
Think about it. What if you lost an arm, leg at work? Crushed your spine, fingers, feet? Suffered the terrible psychological trauma and consequences of workplace bullying, a violent workplace assault, armed robbery? Lost your income, your career, your hobbies and maybe your friends, colleagues and marriage…
Yes, many of us, more seriously injured workers have heavy hearts, our heads need hands to hold them up as they have been lowered so many, many times. Many of us are badly hurt and physically unable to stand, walk, write.. but we are understood by the rest of those who understand and can sympathise when all we need is a word of hope and compassion.
Say hello to those who went to work one morning to earn a living , just like you, but got hurt instead, and who are now isolated, betrayed by an adversarial ‘system’, and have been kept waiting for months or years… Many of us feel like our lives have become a waiting game without much support. We have been in a waiting game that causes shame and blame to, often shattered, lives that are already suffering with pain.
We, more seriously injured workers feel like the forgotten lost in a battle and no matter how we explain the state of our circumstances it’s as if our information is interpreted and written in a different language.
We wish you, the healthy worker, the workcover insurance, its case manager, the “independent” doctor, the employer, the “rehabber” could comprehend without the need to offend us or our need to have to repeatedly defend the truth about our injuries.
We communicate but there is no one who will contemplate the fact that we too have rights in this society and that we are entitled and legally owed justice.
Our main struggles are about justice and our rights to have a better quality of life …better than we are given. We are referred and passed on to other workcover-related services and/or agencies that place us often in even more difficulty, leaving us to struggle.
Yes, we believe we have become victims of a very adversarial workcover system that has a policy of denial making us into rivals at odds without an end in sight.
Say hi, our fight is for access to a better (quality of) life and justice. We fight for a better way and for respect and humanity to rise above poverty. All we have are our words, and our stories and we hope we will be heard and believed. Our war is psychological and financial as we fight for the lives of our families and ourselves. It’s a fight that gets placed under scrutiny, over and over again, and alleged assumptions that condemn rather than complements the possibility that we are humans.
We are placed on trial and there isn’t really anyone you can rely on to promote reasonable communication to allow for accommodation or compassion.
Hurt or made ill on our jobs, we often lose all that we had and many of us are left without the ability of any earning potential in a stalemate with those who were supposed to protect us. Some of us will never be able to be self-sufficient, ever, without assistance or the courage to fight for our rights to be heard.
So, please, say hello to a more seriously work injured person. No-one knows how we could survive amidst all the alliances that oppose and have imposed the stresses of life upon us. It’s a bit like being continually on life support. Many of us still have unfulfilled dreams and families that are left bewildered and sad. Many of us (will) lament over the opportunities that we might have had and the chances for a better quality of life that we have lost as a consequence of our injuries.These are the facts that are the complexities of our lives – a life that was and, for many, a life that will never be coming back.It’s never about being compensated for being injured;…it’s always about explanations that lead to frustrations in our lives not being taken seriously as we fight for our survival. We need a chance to be affirmed as worthy of being accepted and not rejected by prejudice; we hope for collaboration rather than frustrations.We have had to be strong among the wrongs that complicate our lives.And, our victory is about refusing to give up and staying in the fight!
More good than harm
We believe that in doing what we do, injured workers who experience difficulties with their situation, with workcover benefits and who are frustrated, those whose hassles with their claims person (case manager etc) seem too much, really appreciate what ‘history’ stands behind them. They learn one important thing and that is that they are not alone, and certainly not the sole ‘target’ of the workcover insurance company or any of their representatives. Many injured workers went before you, blazing a painful and costly trail to this time.
We also hope that our injured readers learn about their particular state’s claims process and workers compensation legislation the best they can. .
However, we do agree that it is quite possible for anyone reading our articles, and especially comment threads, to see so much “misinformation”, to seeing/hearing fear, confusion and worry . . . because we are very often sharing information that is specific to certain workcover claims for certain people and in certain states. . .It certainly does not help that the Australian workers compensation legislation varies so much from state to state!
Saying that, we do believe the overarching themes affecting injured workers most such as the sense of (gross) injustice and wrong, loss of control, loss of identity, emotional isolation, and distrust are the same or very similar in every state/territory. That there is a clear link between being physically injured at work and the emotional and psychological toll this can take is very apparent from injured workers interactions on this site.The impact of a workplace injury has a tremendous ripple effect on the (more seriously) injured workers life.
However, and as highlighted throughout this site,we can not set ourselves up as professionals or experts and give legal advice, or medical advice, nor are we trained counselors, nor have we worked workcover claims.
We welcome any (constructive – please) criticism, suggestions for improvement as well as any ideas for change.
[¹]We run solely on the power of injured workers (and our healthy family,friends and carers), and are not affiliated in any shape or form with any Union, employer’s organisation, medical practitioners, lawyers, workcover authorities, insurance companies and/or their various stakeholders. We are not a non-profit “Society” nor a registered a (non-)charitable corporation/organisation. And, what’s more, unlike some other “injured workers support” sites we do not have any hidden agenda (e.g we do not run a for or non-for-profit rehabilitation centre, a law firm etc, we do not run paid advertisements, we don’t need our readers to pay for our articles/posts/booklets, no ‘membership’ fees etc. that is: we do not make any money whatsoever on the misery of injured workers). We just are… a “community” run by (current and former) injured workers for injured workers and have /receive no funding.
[²] Generally speaking injured workers who suffer minor injuries such as for example a broken leg, arm, a torn rotator cuff etc will not have the same problems with the workcover system, in particular with the workcover insurer, as longer term, more seriously injured workers. They will receive their 2-6 weeks time-off work paid, as well as their needed medical treatment and return to work.
[post dictated by workcovervictim and manually inserted on her behalf]
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